How Long Could N.Y. Knicks Survive Life Without Carmelo Anthony?

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The New York Knicks didn't have much time to celebrate their 116-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Then again, a win over the 9-14 Lakers has been little cause for celebration this season.

Midway through the third quarter, Anthony drove left around Devin Ebanks and encountered Dwight Howard in a violent collision at the rim.

The hit sent Anthony crashing to the floor, with his left ankle appearing to buckle under his body on the way down.

With Anthony in the midst of the MVP race, the play looked like it had potential to put him on the shelf for significant time and potentially derail the Knicks' hot 17-5 start to the season. Early reports suggest, though, that the Knicks star forward may have avoided disaster:

 

Ankle sprains are tough to gauge, particularly in the immediate aftermath. The Knicks will have to see how Anthony feels in the coming days to grasp just how long this injury will linger.

Luckily for New York, this injury couldn't have come at a better time. Thursday's contest marked the beginning of a six-game homestand for the Knicks.

New York has on off-day Friday, then welcomes the 5-18 Cavaliers to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. The Houston Rockets (10-11), Brooklyn Nets (12-9) and Chicago Bulls (12-9) then follow next week.

Anthony's MVP candidacy stems from both his own strong play and that of his teammates.

His 25.32 player efficiency rating entering Thursday's contest marked a career high, a full three points higher than his previous best. Already a proficient scorer, he's found more touches near the basket in coach Mike Woodson's offense, and his three-point attempts have come within Woodson's sets (45.5 percent for the year).

With Amar'e Stoudemire still recovering from a knee injury that has delayed his 2012-13 debut, Anthony's dazzled as the team's unquestioned alpha dog. The Knicks have found enough production to complement Anthony and have compiled a plus-7.4 scoring differential along the way.

Without Anthony in the lineup, the Knicks lack the go-to scorer that draws attention away from their wealth of shooters. J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton can carry the team for stretches, but neither has shown the ability to lift their teammates for stretches of games.

If Anthony's only out for a limited time, the Knicks should have enough firepower to handle their next two opponents.

But they'll need their leader back at the helm for their tilts with Brooklyn and Chicago near the end of next week.

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